Friday, March 31, 2006

"Born Into Brothels" - Of Hopes and Dreams!

Khud ko kar buland itna
Ke har tadbeer se pehle
Khuda bande se pooche
Bata teri razaa kya hai

It's been about 10 mins past since I turned off the DVD Player. Had been watching a documentary movie - "Born into Brothels - Calcutta's Red Light Kids". Let me give you all the introductory information regarding this movie. It won the Oscar Awards for best documentary in the year 2005, apart from 12 other awards in various prestigious ceremonies all over the world. This movie is directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. The movie is about the life of the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi - the Red Light area in Calcutta.
There are a set of people who usually object to such movies on the grounds that the Western movie makers seem to be only interested in showcasing the rotting and debilitating aspects of India, rather than show her development and progress on the World Frontier. This aspect is something that I do not even consider worth dealing with in this post at this time. So if there is any wish of bringing that up here, you are welcome to close the browser!
The documentary starts with the director coming to the brothel as a teacher of photography, and handing each kid a camera, and showing them how to shoot photographs. What unveils next is a gentle bonding between the director and a group of children, that takes the viewers to the most sensitive details of their lives! The director's fight with the local system, families of the children, and the government to get the children a better life, by getting them admitted to a boarding school, even exhibiting their photographs in an exhibition abroad, and giving an opportunity for a kid in the brothel to travel abroad, the eventualities of the children in the end, is what the movie is all about in terms of the story. The effect is verbally immeasurable!
There are a genre of movies that portray vividly the disdain experienced by the downtrodden in all its stark nakedness that makes one steal views, or turn heads! But this movie unlike them, does not leave you with a pain in the heart. It leaves you with hope, and dream, like that of those children - a better tomorrow, a better life! Shanti, Avijit, Suchitra, Manik, Tapasi, Pooja, Kochi, these are children who for some reason go through the travails of abuse every day! There is a moment when the kids are tested for being HIV +ve, when the heart stands still! The dread of becoming one "with the line", is starkly visible in the eyes of the kids! And yet when one hears them sing joyfully on their way to the zoo, see them playing with wanton abandon in the waters of the beach, invariably the lips trace a curve. Such is the magic of their spirits, that fights undaunted, the hypocrism and abuse of the so called developed society!
This movie is a must watch. The subject is reason enough. If one is in the habit of cribbing, complaining, and exhaling mounds of long drawn sighs at the unjust life, take a break, and watch this movie. It's a shame, we lack their spirits! The best thing? They give us a part of their own! Adios!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Dear Mr. Salif Rasaki...

From the laptop of,
My Apartment, Landlord's building Complex,
Boring City, Equally Boring State,
Whachamacallit Country.

NOTE:- The contents of this mail is absolutely public and highly non-consequential, and is absolutely aimed at digressing all limits of rationality and decency. It is aimed at ridiculing you and your institution, and any resemblance between you and an African chimpanzee drawn is absolutely intentional and well-deserved.

Dear Mr. Salif Rasaki,

Sub:- Regarding the transfer of 2 million dollars to my account!

I am absolutely dumbfounded, astonished, and shocked! No! It has nothing to do with Miss Neha Kapur winning the Miss India pageant! It is because of the fact that you were able to find me out inspite of me being undercover! Yes! And now I am going to make it public that I am not who you think I am! I indeed am the kith of the royal family of OUAGADOUGOU! I infact am the next prince to rule the land where ur Bank of Efrican is located! And because I with my genuine power of foresight (bestowed to me by dear ol' Baba Bhaijaan, about whom I will write later) had realized that a military coup will result in the destruction of my entire family, and so I escaped in the middle of the night ala our Bollywood movies amidst thunders and torrential rains, and after crossing saat samundar changed my identity and my looks (well u know.. color and all that). But you still found me out! The FBI and CIA gotto learn something off of you!
Neeeeewaaayssss.. so as my esteemed self had predicted, the military coup was a success and you have written that all of my family alongwith with my relatives were killed while trying to escape in a plane! Oh! Woebegone on the Kenyan Airlines! I always knew they couldn't be trusted! That was the reason I walked all the way!
Oh Well! So I believe that you were spared by the military coup! Well, good for u! What was that? You had to dress like a female gorilla and hide in the jungles? Awwwww... what!! eeks! that must've been painful! I bet the male gorilla had no idea! Well .. well.. now now.. comeon no hard feelings Mr. Rasaki! Well its the order of the nature! Males.. females.. u know how it goes.. don't you?!
Whatz that? Oh ok.. coming back to the point! So my father had deposited 20 million USD in your esteemed bank. Eh? And now you have been so generous enough to have found me out, and want to give it back to me! Well, I know, that if I come over there as Prince OUAGADOUGOU, the coup may try to assassinate me too! And so, you have devised this ingenious plan (how very wily and clever of you my dear Rasaki! Oh! How rude of me to have compared u to a chimp! I am sorry .. chimp!) well.. so, you want me to give you my details as the long lost relative of the royal family now residing in this whachamacallit nation, but never really show up! Oh! How convenient!! All u need is my account number, with the routing number for the bank and the personal phone number and address. Isn't it? Well, u already have my address at the start of this mail, so thatz settled! Now you wanna keep 60% of our bank balance with yourself, and then u want to visit me with your wife, and children, and at that time u will discreetly, and under utmost secrecy and protection, transfer the all of the amount to me in hard green, USD!!! For the love of chimpanzees! Hold me.. nay pray support me, lest I shalt faint in utter surprise and merriment!
[Playing in the background "mujhe mil jo jaaye thoda paisa.. thoda paisa.." and "Money money money.. must be funny for the African bankers... "(with due apologies to ABBA)] Now herez what I am going to do Mr. Salif Rasaki, I do not quite trust the security of these emails and so have deviced an equally ingenious plan as yours. I shall encode my personal details in a blog, and write it out, and embed in it, using complicated extrapolated algorithm of random number generation, the place for our secret meeting! You will, I am sure, realize that it is the secret forest next to the palace of OUAGADOUGOU family! Now you wear your female gorilla costume and make sure that u are there at the right time, to receive my account number and bank routing number, which I shall embed in a male gorrilla! How is it gonna give u those details, you ask Mr. Rasaki?! Now, now. comeon.. u know.. the male.. female.. nature thing! What say you? Eagerly waiting to receive those 2 million dollars!
Yours absolutely wasted,

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Midnite Musings...

It is the middle of the nite, 2 : 14 AM.. and am sleepless in Wichita! The fact of the matter is that I slept early, and woke up in the middle of the night, and realized that I was thinking of someone! How often does this happen? The feeling of missing someone so close, its so intense, I can hardly breathe!
I turned 26 on 19th of March! Several wishes, several greetings, parties, treats, gifts, and all that jazz! I got up and looked at all of 'em once again. So many relationships.. some old.. some new! Friends since my school and pre school days... friends just a few months old.. relatives, family.. wishes from everyone! A few so special, that they made me feel so blessed for being me! I feel blessed for having them in my life!
It was supposed to be spring in Wichita! Surprisingly enough, its freezing outside! Rained continuously for 2 days, and even snowed heavily in parts of Kansas! The weather too seems to be revolting against man! Giving warning signs of his over exploitation. The heart thinks otherwise! Did someone send forth this coldness?
Sunday, I returned to RJing after a sojourn for almost 6 months. Not many of my readers here may know that I am also an RJ. The return was indeed welcomed, and got really good responses too! There is something to be said of human connection! It's just a voice, of a person many haven't even seen, or have no idea of! And yet, it somehow touches you! The feedbacks were heartening!
Got a whole lot of work coming up in the next couple of weeks. A couple of important things of my life will be decided in the forthcoming weeks! Am I tense?Strangely, I have no idea of it! Is it that I have become numb to such feelings?
I just wish.. that my mind would stop thinking for a moment, and be still. I guess I'll try to lull it to sleep somehow...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Academi(y)c Blunder!

The 78th Academy Awards were given out on the 6th of March, evening at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood. The highlights of the award ceremony were obviously the regal selection of movies - some of which were never a hit in the box office list. This went to assure us movie fans that Oscar Awards did not after all get ruled by the numbers and fame! Or did I speak too soon? Well, there were a couple of surprises in stack, after all habits are hard to get over. Isn't it?
When the nominations were announced, the fact that Brokeback Mountain was selected under 8 categories (the highest in the list this time) came as a welcome breeze! Hollywood seemed to have finally stepped out of the oblivion in encompassing issues of Social concern, which even drove the political campaign in the United States. Not just this movie, but the others selected under the best movie category too showcased the same! But hardly a few were as hard hitting as the former. I'd say that Crash would follow Brokeback Mountain. The theme dealt in the movie Crash, was equally sensitive, and very novel. The 2 days that seemed to bring different people (from different cultures) and different issues altogether, leaving a lasting impression on the minds of the characters (and also the viewers) and changing them forever, is a theme that very few films can do justice to! And in this venture, CRASH wasn't a debacle at all. No sireee.. on the contrary, it nailed the issue to the point, right on the head, and drove it straight where it had to be driven! Yet, at the end of the day, the story that showcases the hypocritic attitude of the society towards the 'queer' community is one, that makes us stand still. Typically the academy had been following the tradition of awarding the best director, and the best movie to the same Film (except the past couple of years). When Ang Lee won the award, I was all set to watch Brokeback walk away with the best movie award too. Am I disappointed that Crash got it? I woudn't say so. But yeah, Brokeback Mountain deserved it.
The awards in the category of best animations, was yet another surprise! Tim Burton's "The Corpse Bride" was several times enjoyable than "Wallace and Gromit...". The former was, if I may say, more sassy, classy, witty, and definitely pleasant! I did have high expectations on the "Howl's Moving Castle" till I watched the movie. For those of us who expected another "Spirited Away" or something better, this movie was indeed a let down of the size of King Kong. The best make-up award being given to the team of "Chronicles of Narnia" was yeddanoder surprise, what with the contender being "Star Wars-III Revenge of the Sith". And forgive me for sounding archaic, "In the deep"(Crash) was a much better score than "Its hard out here for a Pimp"(Hustle & Flow). The couple of movies that I felt richly deserved the awards they won, were ofcourse "King Kong" and "Memoirs of a Geisha".
Finally, yet another annual event of great expectation is over, and another series of movies shall be screened in hope of winning the big 'O'. Hopefully if the last year was any hint of what is coming forth, we may see Hollywood churning out movies that are more meaningful and bearing more impact. If it may seem like the Academy Awards is making up for the negligence is showed earlier, then better late than never!
As a passing thought, whatever made India send the repulsive "Paheli" to the Oscars while there was the mesmerizing "Black"?!! Guess some things are just universal!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Books to change your life!

This blog has tried to feed varied tastes, and more so tried to showcase the varied interests that I share in my life! But I realized that I still haven't given the stage to one of my most passionate interest - Books. I do not boast of being an ardent reader who devours every best seller, but I can still humbly talk of a refined taste in terms of books. The reason I treasure them so, is probably because they were the sole companions I hung on to during my periods of introvertness, and even during the period of extrovertness! I run to them in moments of solitude, and in moments of celebrations! They were privy to my fears, my flaws, and my feasts! They have seen me grow and mature, and what more! They have been a part of it!
In the first account in this blog on books, I would like to write about 2 of my most precious books, that I have in my possession. These books have been my light, my guide and my inspiration in moments of darkness, doubt, & despair. Both of these books have been authored by an eminent and renowned writer - Richard Bach.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
: The story of a seagull who flew only for the thrill of flight! The story of a being who craved to be different from others, and suffered for being so! The beginning of a journey in the path of love! This book which is slightly more than a 100 pages, with half of the pages carrying images of sea gulls, nevertheless is an ocean with waves of inspiration to flood one's being with! I am yet to find a person who woudn't recognize one self with the sea gull, or grow to admire it! It is a story close to our heart and talks of our struggle. It assures us of an happy ending - something which sometimes, we aren't so sure of. These are the kind of books that leave a mark on us, an indelible one at that. However small it may be, the mark shall grow - under the right support and environment, only on the longer run to bear the fruit of happiness and contentment.
: The book above started a journey in the path of love, while Illusions takes us into the realms of self-realization. Unless we understand ourselves, and love ourselves for being what we are, we shall never grow to love others. We need to be our saviors - our Messiahs, in order for us to heal others and more importantly ourselves! It's all an Illusion! The World is an Illusion! The pains, sufferings, horrors we see, everything is an illusion as also the beauty! So whatz the one thing that is real? It's the truth! A Truth that never changes! The story of how a barn stormer's life is changed by his 'chance' meeting with a messiah turned barnstormer is what this book is all about. It is tough to understand the essence of the book in a single reading! What more? Read the book over and over again in different contexts, at different junctures of life, and it makes different sense each time! It is the ending of the book that still startles me to this day!
Both the books are filled with quotes that seem to make a difference into our everyday lives. These are normal things stated so profoundly under such unique circumstances, that the characters that say it stand out of the book in front of your eyes, and look directly into you and speak to you. The words hit like bolts of thunder and shake your beliefs! Sometimes, it seemed as if someone rudely threw me off of the bed in my deep slumber and brutally woke me up by shaking the hell outta me! We all tend to be comfortably settled down in what we think is our limitations, our beliefs of what we can do and what we can't! We accept them, and make them a part of us! These are the books that convince you that we are 'limitless... children of the Is... playful spriritual beings ...'. The author writes in Illusions -
"Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they are yours"!!
"In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice".
"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly".
Some of these will not hit right into us in the first reading. And I feel they must not too. I revel in digging into the essence. And both of these books however simple they may sound, are profound in every sense! Get these books if you want a treasure house for a lifetime!

Whose Tag is it Anyway!!

It had been quite a while since we played the game of tagging the fellow bloggers! There were a few questions that have been playing pranks in my mind. So here goes a list of questions and my answers for the same. And me being the originator, the bloggers I'd like to Tag with these questions are - Kishan, Manju, Chandan, Velu, Giridhar Narayan, Madhuri, and Divya (Enigma). Hope they respond duly in their respective blogs!
  1. Name :- Praveen
  2. Date of Birth :- 19th of March
  3. Ambition in Life :- To be successful and stay happy in any endeavour that I may take.
  4. Your Asset(s) :- My patience, smile, sense of humor and the talents.
  5. The biggest flaw in your personality :- Indecision and procrastinations.
  6. What gives you the greatest pleasure? - Being the way I like to be!
  7. What hurts you the most? - Anger, misunderstanding, hypocrism.
  8. What motivates you? - Challenge and urge to learn.
  9. Who has had the greatest influence in your life? - My Aunt.
  10. What is your idea of perfect happiness? - A mind free of fears, concerns, and guilt.
  11. What is the best gift that can be given to anyone? - To love them for what they are.
  12. The biggest mistake you ever committed in your life? - Thus far it has been to lose sight of my goal. As for future, too early to say anything ;).
  13. What, in your opinion, is Life? - Matter of perception.
  14. What is the toughest thing to do in this world? - To let go.
  15. Humanity is at cross-roads. What do you suggest as a remedial measure? - Be truthful to yourself and set off on any road - You can always take U turns.
  16. On what scale do u measure friendship? How much would u trust your friend? - I don't measure friendship. I trust my friend 100%.
  17. What is the quality you like the most in a man and a woman? - Respect and Love.
  18. How would you like to be remembered after your death? - It is to the prerogative of the person who wants to remember me.
  19. Message to the world? - Treat others the way you would want to be treated if in their position.
  20. What attracts you the most? - The S O S of life - Simplicity, Originality and Sincerity.
  21. How would you describe yourself in a single adjective? - A Hearty Explorer.
  22. What do you look for in a relationship? - I do not get into a relationship hoping to profit from it! But I'd look for mutual trust, respect and Love.
  23. The person you would like to be in your next life? - ME!!

So, these were the questions and my answers for 'em. I hope my fellow bloggers would respond soon and favorably!